"Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the Church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And if they have committed sins, these will be forgiven." (James 5:14-15)
The sacrament traditionally known as "extreme unction" (meaning "final anointing") is now officially called "anointing of the sick" to help improve our understanding of the shift in its primary use, from one of the "last rites" for those facing imminent death, to its availability for anyone suffering a serious illness.
If the person’s condition worsens or a new illness develops, a second anointing can occur. Based on the "pastoral judgment of the priest," multiple anointings can be given to those suffering from old age or chronic illness.
The priest anoints the person’s forehead with the Oil of the Sick, olive oil blessed by the bishop at the Chrism Mass during Holy Week. He then anoints the person’s hands. According to local culture and traditions and the person’s individual needs, other parts of the body also may be anointed.
The term "last rites" refers to an anointing of the sick administered together with the sacraments of penance and Eucharist. When administered to the dying, Eucharist is known as "viaticum" (meaning "food for the journey").
The standard order of the rites is: penance (if the dying person is unable to confess, absolution is given on condition of the person’s contrition), then anointing, then viaticum.
Family members of those beginning to suffer from serious illness are now able to request the sacrament for their loved ones, without waiting until they are in immediate danger of death. The grace of the sacrament can help to relieve anxiety, fear, pain and suffering for the faithful who receive it.